What Is Your Biggest Weakness?

What Is Your Biggest Weakness?

In the past, I frequently asked my candidates this question, “What is your biggest weakness?” and I often heard some surprising answers.  Some of them were:

  • I’m controlling
  • Lack of/too much attention to detail
  • Sex
  • Talk too much
  •  Fear of Failure
  • Chocolate
  • Get attached
  • Managing stress
  • Customer Service
  • Procrastination
  • I Tell it like it is
  • Don’t understand “No”
  • Being honest
  • Knowing when to stop
  • Lack of work experience
  • Care too much

But in my professional opinion, we should NOT be asking this question.  As recruitment professionals, we give our assurances to our client that we can find the right candidate. And finding the right candidate is based on facts.  The Weakness Question gives us only a theoretical or opinion based answer at best.

This pop psychology question is a best-forgotten leftover from the late 80’s, when licensed therapists were practicing their trade in the Recruitment Industry.  Today, most of us recruitment professionals are not licensed therapists.  Without the right training, we are applying our own personal dictionary (made up from our own personal experiences) to interpret these answers.  This causes us to screen in or out the wrong candidates based on our feelings and personal bias.

If you think you are skilled enough to interpret the answers without a PhD, congratulations!  You are better than me.  I would of course need to challenge you with the fact that the only right answer to this question is, “I have no weakness.”

If you read a book called “Mistakes were made, but not by me” by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson, you would come to understand that as human beings we would not survive by believing we were fallible.  If you are truly looking for a way to get to the core of a candidate’s personality and assess their cultural fit, I recommend using behavioral based questions like, “Tell me about a time which you had to use your fact-finding skills to gain information for solving a problem.”

With behavioral based questions, your candidate will share with you real situations with real outcomes.  From that information you can use their past behavior to accurately predict their future behavior.

The hardest skill for you will be to learn the proper way to ask behavioral based questions.  When you master this skill, you will gain a more accurate insight into a candidate’s true personality, without getting caught up in trying to interpret their answers.  This will leave you no room to apply your own possibly skewed interpretation, and help you beeline to the decision of whether your candidate is indeed a control freak or someone who just talks too much and ultimately if they are the right fit for your client.


The Recruiter’s Coach

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3 responses to “What Is Your Biggest Weakness?

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